This is the fifth post in our blog series The Cavendish Story written by our Archivist, Louise Clarke. Read the first post,Cataloguing the Cavendish Family Papers, and the second post,Cataloguing the 8th Duke's Personal Papers, the third post,Chatsworth in Wartimeand the fourth post, Family Matters.

The scope of the ‘Cavendish Family Papers’ project extends beyond the personal papers of the immediate members of the Cavendish family and for this blog we will jump back in time to the 18th century and take a glance at a selection of these papers, namely the papers of the Earls of Burlington and the Boyle family.

Portrait of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and his wife and daughters

The Burlington connection to the Cavendish’s came about through the marriage of Lady Charlotte Boyle, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Burlington, to William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington (later 4th Duke of Devonshire). In time their son William Cavendish, later 5th Duke of Devonshire, would inherit his grandfather's estate and collections.
This particular set of documents, historically known as the Burlington Miscellaneous Papers includes the papers of five members of the Boyle family, including some papers of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Earls of Burlington. The majority of the papers of each family member consist of correspondence and accounts relating to the management of the vast Burlington estates in Ireland and Yorkshire. These interesting documents reveal how the three different Earl’s managed their estates and show the running costs that came with it, including staff salaries, building expenses and other more minute expenses, for example (in the 1st Earl’s case) the individual cost incurred by the Earl’s agents when sending letters.

Extract from 1st Earl of Burlington’s account book

Among the estate correspondence and accounts there is also correspondence covering the more personal aspect of family life. As part of the 3rd Earl of Burlington’s papers, there is a selection of letters written between the Earl’s agents who discuss not only their work but also the lives and health of Lord and Lady Burlington and their family. In a letter dated 16 March 1731 Andrew Crotty, one of the Earl’s agents, writes to the Henry Simpson, the Earl’s Steward, relating Lord Burlington’s joy at learning that Lady Burlington could be with child: 'I had the pleasure to see my good Lord much better in his health to hear that My Lady was in an hopeful way. God Almightly will I hope supply their late loss with the valuable Equivalent of an heir apparent'. The baby did not turn out to the heir apparent that Crotty hoped it would, but was Lady Charlotte, the Earl of Burlington’s second daughter, who was born on 27 October 1731.

Marriage settlement of Lady Charlotte Boyle and Lord Hartington

Another of the key documents catalogued as part of the project is the marriage settlement of William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, and Lady Charlotte Boyle. This settlement meant that the Burlington estate would be transferred to the Cavendish family upon the death of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington. The estates that passed to the hands of the Cavendish family through this marriage included amongst other properties: Chiswick House, Burlington House, Bolton Abbey, and Lismore Castle, with the latter two still remaining a part of the Devonshire Estates today.

First page of the marriage settlement

The cataloguing of these papers has been vital to improve access to an important set of material relating to a fascinating family with vital links to the Dukes of Devonshire, their estates and collections.

Louise Clarke
Cataloguing Archivist


This project was under taken by one of our Collections Volunteers and is just one of the ways in which someone has engaged with the archive material in the Devonshire Collection. Visit the Art and Archives pages of the Chatsworth website to find out more about the collection and how to access material.

You’ll be amazed at what you might uncover. Visit www.exploreyourarchive.org to find out more about engaging with other archive collections from across the UK or follow the archive stories on twitter #explorearchives.

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